WASHINGTON -- A group of former officers who commanded John F. Kerry in Vietnam more than three decades ago declared yesterday that they oppose his candidacy for president, challenged him to release more of his military and medical records, and said Kerry should be denied the White House because of his 1971 allegations that some superiors had committed ''war crimes."
Kerry has since said his accusation about war crimes and atrocities was too harsh, but many of his former commanders contended yesterday that they believed the allegations were aimed at them.
''I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be commander in chief," said retired Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, who helped organize the news conference and oversaw all of the swift boats in Vietnam at the time Kerry commanded one of those crafts. ''This is not a political issue; it is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty, and trust -- all absolute tenets of command."
The story's broken out into the major media now. The Kerry campaign says that these are all Republican shills. All of them? (Mitch Berg has thoughts on this, and one of his commenters notes: "Interesting, isn't it, that the party membership of the swiftboaters is relevant, according to the left, but the activist group membership of the 9/11 families who slam Bush is completely irrelevant." It certainly gets less media attention.)
Even without this stuff, I think it was a mistake to use Vietnam as a "branding" tool for Kerry -- to young voters it seems ancient history, and to older voters it doesn't exactly have positive associations. But these attacks would be dismissed as old news if Kerry hadn't opened the door by constantly talking about Vietnam.
LT Smash observes: "Part of the blame lies with Kerry himself. Throughout the primary campaign, he repeatedly called attention to his service in Vietnam in order to differentiate himself from his opponents. He also brought along some of his fellow veterans on the campaign trail. He shouldn’t be surprised, then, that some of his former brothers-in-arms, who weren’t quite so happy about his post-war activities, have decided to speak up." Yes.